Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The process of creating of a full back tattoo painting.

Finished back tattoo painting ©Forest Stearns
 So it all started with an idea sketched on a napkin. Working with someone who has a crystal clean vision of their goals is always an inspiration.  This piece is a great example of a client with an idea going through all the right channels to get exactly what he wanted in a commissioned piece.  Dan came to me after seeing some of my work on a Four Letters poster and told me that my illustration style was exactly what he wanted for a full back tattoo.  Damn, I thought, this guys want to wear my work on his body for life. Huge. Like I said, we started out with a napkin drawing and I gave him some homework. A years worth to be exact. His job if he was to get my work on him was to own it, I instructed him to go into his world and collect imagery a write down the exact intention that this piece of art would hold and in one year after he marinated on the idea we would meet again.

 I was in the middle of graduate school at the time and I had not given much thought to the idea of the back tattoo when I got a ms from Dan. It had been a year he said and he had done his homework. Awesome, I love follow through. He came to my studio in Oakland from the Sierras and we had an afternoon meeting going over all of his collected images. He was very clear about specific imagery and composition of the new work and how it would literally wrap around existing tattoos. We hammered out the specific themes and decided on what the finished product would be.

 We decided that I would measure his canvas size of his back and I would execute a fully rendered painting in acrylic and color pencil for him to exhibit in his home. He would be able to live with my painting that he could see while wearing it on his back to show the world.
sketches of the process 1 ©Forest Stearns
 Starting with the measurements and the imagery inspiration I set out to create this body mural.  In creating a developed piece the viewer never really gets to see into the process. Hours of looking at subject matter and redrawing it. Developing the look of the drawing in my style and in a composition that is interesting, well designed, and flows with the rest. It all starts with a good design.

sketches of the process 2 ©Forest Stearns
 Once I had it decide what the exact imagery would be based on, I mocked it up in Photoshop and transfer the image to the life size canvas in pencil.
Digital placement of tattoo ©Forest Stearns
Forest Stearns at work on tattoo painting, drawing phase. ©Forest Stearns

Here I am hard at work. During the process of drawing I had Dan and his son come through the studio to give his OK. He really liked the development and was excited to see my style and his concept melding.


The client smile in approval of the work in progress. ©Forest Stearns
Painting in progress, the deadly 80% finished. ©Forest Stearns
 From there I gave it color. An amazing transformation happens at this stage. It goes from a fully developed line drawing that is very flat to fully rendered object interacting with each other. Development of focal areas, subordinate areas, color harmonies and above all a strong graphic line work to hold it all together like a net full of fish. The picture on the top of the post shows the finished piece. The colors are blasting from the page. The elements work together. And I feel that my style is thorough and solid.  A success. I love this job!